Visiting Los Angeles, a 10 day travel guide

6 February 2018

Hello cosmonauts, and belated happy new year! For the past month I have been preparing this “travel” article about my finding in Los Angeles, where I spent the last seasonal holidays.

Of course, Los Angeles does not evoke the spirit of Christmas, especially when we come from Strasbourg, the “Christmas capital”. But the purpose of this trip was above all to spend time with my family who lives there. Despite the absence of fir trees and snow, setting foot in the Pacific Ocean on Christmas morning is quit pleasent.

Between family celebrations and heavy meals, I still found time to be a tourist and go to a lot of restaurants. I will write about all this, of course, but know that Los Angeles is so huge that even after my many trips to this city I do not know all the corners yet. If you’re thinking of getting inspired by a blog to plan a trip to Los Angeles, I suggest you use more than one source, because Los Angeles can be experieced in a thousand and one different ways! You just have to find the one that suits you …

Preparing your travel to Los Angeles

Los Angeles without a car is almost impossible! Public transports don’t go everywhere, and to get from a point A to a point B you sometimes have to change 4-5 buses, and it takes forever. Even with a car, traveling within the city may seem like small trips.

My great advice for those preparing a to-do list is to be realistic and to limit themselves to 1-2 cities (within the LA county) per day (maximum). Of course, when you make an 11 hour trip to Los Angeles (if coming from europe) you wish to see a lot of things at once. However, if you have to spend 5 minutes in each place and not be able to really enjoy it, it is not worth it.

Eating in Los Angeles

As for restaurants, I suggest you collect a maximum of addresses in advance to be sure to have an ideal and authentic place to eat nearby wherever you are. Because as I said before, in Los Angeles everything is far away.

In Los Angeles there are very good restaurants and fast foods with a lot of cultural diversity. But, as for the majority of the big American cities there is also a lot of Franchises (1/3 of the restoration, which is much more than in France for example). I have nothing against franchises. There are some very good ones and I would even recommend some of them in this article (Original Tommy’s for example – photo below). However, my personal opinion is that to make a real dining experience in a city, independent restaurants are always better. So if like me, gastronomy is an essential part of your travels, prepare a list of restaurants to avoid eating burgers only.

Tommy’s est une chaîne de restaurants sud-californienne connue pour ces chili burgers dégoulinants




The first thing I did when I arrived in the Los Angeles County was to go see the ocean. As I live in Strasbourg, it’s not something I can do very often. Since I was staying in the San Fernando Valley, I then one of the many canyons that separate this part of the county from the ocean and I ended up in Malibu.

The beaches and beach houses in and around Malibu are breathtaking. It is much less crowded here than the famous Santa Monica or Venice Beach. I was there around Christmas and there wasn’t a soul on the beaches. Only a few surfers now and then. I think in summer it’s not the same.

Apart from these beautiful beaches, Malibu also has small museums and some very nice architects’ houses. There is, for example, the Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University or the Adamson House, which I visited 10 years ago. The Adamson House is a very charming house from the 1930s covered inside and out with the famous blue tiles of Malibu. For even more architecture, there is the Eames House located in the Pacific Palisades, just south of the city limits of Malibu.

Santa Monica Pier

From beautiful beaches to scenic hikes and gourmet restaurants, this LA coastal district has a lot to offer.

Without doubt one of the most emblematic destinations of Santa Monica is its pier, a place of entertainment for the angelenos, and especially the tourists, since 1909.

The Pacific Park, located on the Santa Monica Pier, is a charming amusement park with somewhat old fashioned rides. It also has the only solar powered wheel in the world!

Venice Beach

After having visited the beaches and the pier of Santa Monica, it is possible to walk along the ocean on foot or bike to Venice Beach and explore the famous promenade of this district.

Some people bathe, while surfers in combination surf the waves. The sunsets are spectacular.

Venice Beach is a concentration of all the cliches we have on Los Angeles :

1- It is the cult of the perfect body. On the Muscle Beach super tanned californians work out all year long. 2-The food is a crazy mixture of everything. There are plenty of fusions rstaurants, and most importantly, it’s a vegetarian’s paradise. Avocados are everywhere, the juices are cold pressed, the salads are inventive and colorful … The words detox and healthy are used everywhere. The coffee is a real sensory experience. On Abbot Kinney, one of the central streets of the neighborhood, there are coffee shops every 10 meters. 3- Everyone is “spiritual”. Apart from the words “cleanse” and “healthy”, you also read “healing”, “sigh seeing”, “karma” etc.

In case you were wondering why this city was called so? Is there a relationship with Venice in Italy? The answer is yes. This city was once called the Venice of America, because its founder Abbot Kinney, an American millionaire and Venice lover, wanted to recreate the canals of his beloved city at home in California. And he did. In old photographs from Venice beach we can see Venetian-inspired canals and buildings. Unfortunately, many of these structures end up being paved, in order to make place for the modern roads and infrastructure 🙁

Downtown LA

The Downtown, or as we say in France, the city center, is the Los Angeles business district. Unlike our European cities, downtown Los Angeles is not necessarily the most interesting, entertaining and even less, historic part of the city. That does not mean, however, that it’s not worth visiting. From what I understand, the downtown has undergone alot of transformations in the recent years and the city is trying to revive its former glory. Indeed this downtown was once the place that concentrated all entertainment and shopping spots, but the neighborhood declined economically and suffered a slowdown for decades until its recent renaissance beginning in the 2000s The old buildings have been rehabilitated, and many new museums have sprung up. Even the famous Downtown Food Market, the “Grand Central Market” has completely changed its appearences.

Grand Central Market

The Grand Central Market is an institution in downtown Los Angeles. Opened in 1917, this market (covered but with a terrace area) still offers local produce, on market stalls and restaurant counters and on some 3000 m2, along Broadway.

A trip to the Grand Central Market is a must for every foodie. There is everything: fruits, vegetables, shellfish, fish, meats, spices … You will definently would want to have your lunch here on one of the counters serving cuisines from all over the world.

It was really difficult to choose from all the stands of the Grand Central Market. I had heard a lot about Eggslut, but I think others had heard about it too, because the line was endless. Finally my choice for lunch went to pupusas from Sarita’s. Pupusas are a Salvadoran dish that I did not know about. I thought it was an opportunity to discover them.

While I was queuing for my pupusa I noticed a picture next to the cashier taken from the film La La Land. I realized then that it was here, at this counter, that one of the scenes of the film was shot.

Let’s get back to our Pupusas. It is a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a savoury garnish accompanied by curtido (a spicy cabbage salad) and tomato salsa. It was hypnotizing to see Sarita’s cooks make these tortillas by hand at an incredible speed. The corn meal was first soaked in alkaline water. The dough then turns into a tortilla, which the cooks stuff with cheese, pork, loroco or fried beans. I will certainly try to reproduce all this at home one day!

Angels Flight

Leaving the Grand Central Market on Hill Street, you’ll find an iconic Los Angeles funicular, the “Angels Flight”.

Angels Flight owns two wagons: Sinai and Olivet. This “shortest railway in the world” has a rich history in Los Angeles, and although it’s not the original location, it still uses the original wagons. For $ 1 per trip, you can take this ride from Hill St. to California Plaza.

Grand Av.

After having climbed towards Grand Ave with the funicular (or by climbing the stairs on foot) you will be faced with a multitude of museums, all within a 2-3 minutes walking from one another.

There is MOCA, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. A little further, The Board, another museum of contemporary art that seems to have much more success, because there is always an endless queue in front.


And even a little further, there is the Walt Disney Concert Hall. This one is not really a museum, but as the name indicates a concert hall that hosts the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. You can go there just to admire the unique architecture, designed by Frank Gehry. You can also climb to the roofs or sneak behind it to find its “Blue Ribbon Ggarden”. Here you’ll find “A Rose for Lilly”, a Fountain designed by Frank Gehry to pay homage to Lillian Disney and her love for Delft porcelain. The fountain is a large rose covered with thousands of pieces of Delft porcelain.

The best way to see downtown Los Angeles is to walk and see what you find. There are many hidden side streets, Art Deco style buildings and amazing street art.

As the weather is nice most days of the year in Los Angeles, outdoor activities abound. For contemporary art lovers, just as interesting as MOCA, there is the Downtown LA Art Walk. This is a free, self-guided public art event that takes place on the second Thursday of each month. Otherwise the rest of Downtown LA does not lack beautiful street art. For example, I had the chance too see several murals by the famous American street artist Shepard Fairey.


This work is not part of Hollywood Boulevard’s famous Walk of Fame, but sits solemnly on a sidewalk in Koreatown. I did not know if it was a satirical work or a true expression of faith!

The Koreatown, or “K-town” for the intimate, is not far from the skyscrapers of Dowtown LA.

Despite the evocative name of a traditional ethnic enclave, koreatown is one of the most multicultural neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and the architecture is a continuation of that of downtown Los Angeles: buildings and wide boulevards.

China Town

I take you one more time to one of Los Angeles’s ethnic neighborhoods, this time a much more famous one.

To tell you the truth, I thought that the Los Angeles Chinatown lacked in dynamism, and grandeur compared to other Chinatowns located in leading cities like, San Francisco, London or New York. From what I could understand, from the explanations of some angelenos, the reason is that the Chinese community in Los Angeles is more fragmented between different neighborhoods. Thus, this historic Chinatown has gradually turned into a tourist attraction.

That being said, there were some really nice places to visit in this Chinatown. Without a doubt, the prettiest part was towards the Grande Plaza. It’s a small part of Chinatown with colorful Shanghai style buildings, statues, murals, gates and lanterns. Restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops abound around the square.

Griffith Park

Griffith Park is the second largest park in the United States. It is the ideal place for hikes, picnics or just a stroll. Hiking trails run through the Hollywood sign to Mulholland Drive and has great views of the city. Griffith Park offers many activities, including the Los Angeles Zoo, the Autry Western Museum, pony rides, the Greek Theater and its flagship Griffith Observatory.

Observatoire Griffith

If you’ve seen La La Land, this one-and-a-half hour commercial for the city of Los Angeles, you probably noticed this magical place. I would like mention though that the Griffith Observatory is a little less magical in real life. First of all, you don’t just drive up there spontaneously at sunset. Why? The cars line up about an hour and a half along the way up to the observatory. In addition, once arrived at the top, you are, of course, in the company of a hundred other tourists.

For the less patient, there is the 45-minute hiking option. That’s what I chose to do. It is faster and it avoids paying the parking!

All that being said the Griffith Observatory is a charming place (just not as charming as in the movies) and it is worth discovering it for its original architecture. Besides, the road that takes you there and the surrounding nature are really bucolic. The view is just breathtaking and my advise to you for making the most of it, is to come for the sunset, it’s theatrical!

At the observatory are several galleries on two floors, offering information on ancient telescopes, the history of astronomy, the meteorites that have come close to our solar system, information on our neighboring planets and videos and photos of our galaxy. . Since I have been taking astronomy lessons for a while and I am very passionate about the subject (which may explain the choice of the name of our blog) I was really pleased to discover this place. My only disappointment was not being able to enter one of the planetariums where there is a show every night, because there were too many people.

Hollywood Trail

Griffith Park’s best-known hike leads to the summit of Mount Hollywood. This is not the mountain crowned by the historic sign of Hollywood. However, the Mount Hollywood Trail offers great views of Mt. Lee and the HOLLYWOOD sign through his top. Mt. Hollywood can be traveled through several different trails, but the Griffith Observatory route is by far the most popular.

It takes about an hour to get to the top of Mt. Hollywood from the observatory and another hour away to the Hollywood sign.

Autry Museum of the American West

Going to museums in Los Angeles is not the first thing that comes to mind when you arrive in this city. There are some very good ones though. I was able to visit some of them during my travels, like the Getty Museum, for example, which I absolutely recommend. This year I visited just one, the Autry Museum of the American West which is all the way east of Griffith Park and across the street from the Los Angeles Zoo. It was a very beautiful discovery.

The Autry Museum brings together a collection of art and objects in eight galleries mixing the history and fiction of the Wild West from the 16th century to the present day. The museum is named after a Cowboy / Hollywood singer, Gene Autry, whose fortune helped found the institution in 1988.


In terms of presentation, the Autry Museum is impressive. Its permanent exhibition areas were designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, located a few kilometers from the museum in Glendale.

We learn all about the life of a cowboy, how he was traveling, how he ate … but also about western cinema. The museum also has a wide range of American paintings and sculptures, North American indigenous pottery, and even poetry. In short, Autry museum is a very diverse museum as much on topics as on presentations and there is no time to be bored during a two hour visit.

Les Canyons

In Los Angeles County, several canyons separate the Pacific Ocean from the San Fernando Valley. Since most of my family lives in this valley, I often go through the paths that wind these canyons to get to the water.

There is the Malibu canyon with its beautiful homes of wealthy people and a rather unexpected Hindu temple; Tuna Canyon, the wildest and paradise of skaters who want to go downhill; the one I liked was the Topanga Canyon, because of the alternative lifestyle that these people lead. The atmosphere is totally different from the rest of the city. Surrounded by Topanga State Park, the largest wilderness area in the city limits in the United States, it is accessible by a single route, Topanga Canyon Boulevard which crosses, over 20km, covered hills of chaparral and rocky slopes.

Topanga is very eccentric. There are a handful of bohemian chalet-style restaurants, and almost as many vintage and craft shops.

West Hollywood

West Hollywood is one of Los Angeles’ hippest areas, home to the famous Sunset Boulevard, Chateau Marmont and a bunch of extravagant homes.

Melrose Avenue is, in my opinion, one of the must-see places in the neighborhood. Whether you are a street art lover, a shopaholic or looking for mysterious seers to recite your future, Melrose will make you happy. It’s a motley place where you can spend all your savings on a pair of shoes or a few dollars on a great find at the neighborhood’s flea market, the Trading Post. On the food side, you’ll find everything from Chili Hot Dogs sold in vans to restaurants of great chefs like L’osteria Mozza by the famius chef Nancy Silverstone.

The thing not to miss in this area, or anywhere else in Los Angeles, are the fruit trollys. The trolleys are usually located on the corners of the street topped with a rainbow umbrella. Once you have spotted one, they are hard to miss. No matter where you are in the city, sellers store their carts with the same tools and ingredients: a cutting board, a sharp knife, plastic cups, and an abundance of fresh fruit.

The secret of this fruit salad is seasoning. Tajín, a spicy and lemony Mexican salt that gives an unexpected (but still good) flavor to the fruits.

Original Farmer’s Market

At the intersection of Fairfax and 3rd Street, you will find both The Farmers Market and The Grove, two must-see destinations that together form a community hub, offering an abundance of restaurants, shops and entertainment. The Farmers Market, also called “the original farmers market” (because it was the first farmer’s market in the city) an area of food stalls, seated restaurants, prepared food vendors and product markets. I went there only once, so I could not eat at all the stalls, unfortunately, but I will still give you the name of some that seemed appetizing, and maybe you can go try instead and tell me about them :

There is the Singapore’s Banana Leaf. The name itself is mouth watering. All dishes were served on banana leaves. There was The Gumbo Pot, with New Orleans specialties. The Pampas Grill whose flagship dish seemed to be the grilled sausages Brazilian, but to have it you had to queue for a while. And one last one, this time more national, there was the Fritzi Dog and its “gourmet” hot dogs.

Unlike most farmers’ markets, which are held at regular intervals, the Los Angeles Farmers Market is a permanent facility and is open seven days a week.

A very cute tram connects the Farmers Market to the space behind, called The Grove. To be honest there’s no point taking the tram because the trip is only 500 meters. But hey, it’s a really cute tram!

Studio City, Burbank, Los Feliz

This itinerary includes some cities in Los Angeles County, who are, more or less, to the east of Griffith Park and North of Hollywood. With a little organization, we can go through them all in one day.

Burbank is not a very touristy city itself, but its celebrity comes mainly from the fact that it hosts the famous Warner Studios, one of the many movie studios located in Los Angeles that offers guided tours. I visited the studios, but unfortunately I do not have photos to go show. I think that to fully enjoy the visit of Warner Studios you have to forget photographing. Anyways, I recommend it absolutely, especially if you watch a lot of American series.

Studio City is not really the most interesting place in Los Angeles, but I’ll tell you about it anyway because I’ve found a great place to eat there. This address I had found on a french cookbook called “Los Angeles, famous recipes”. By the way, to find a good place to eat in Los Angeles, it is a book that I highly recommend (plus, there are all of the recipes).

Let’s get back to our restaurant. Its name is Barrel & Ashes and it is specialized in barbecues. There, I tried a very American dish, the Hoe Cake. It’s not at all a specialty of California, but of the southern parts of United States. It is a very thick crepe made from cornmeal, originally cooked on the blade of a hoe. But I think the restaurant had adapted the recipe to the local cuisine. Marinated fresnos brought a bit of Mexican influence to this dish. It was a delight!


To complete this itinerary, I take you to Los Feliz and its Vintage Los Feliz Theater to stay in the movie theme. It is a 1934 cinema in the Art Deco style of the time. Although called “Vintage Theater” the films are all recent.

Marina Del Rey

An unicorporated seaside community in the southwest of Los Angeles County, Marina Del Rey is a good place to end your trip to Los Angeles before heading to the LAX airport which is just a few miles away. It can be your last meeting with the Pacific Ocean!

Marina Del Rey will probably inspire you to spend your day on the water doing something active, such as sailing, sport fishing, parasailing or kayaking.

For my part, since I am not very sporty and not rich enough for such adventures, I preferred to go to El Torito, a Mexican canteen on the port. Going to El Torito is almost a tradition for my family and me. We do it every time I go to Los Angeles. It is not a very chic place, unlike the majority of restaurants in Marina Del Rey. It’s actualy a chain restaurant. But I like the comfort food and the frozen margaritas. When I hear my sizzling Enchildas arrive at my table, I am full of joy!

Shrimp Mazatlan Enchiladas at « El Torito »

Usually we finish our travel articles with an illustrated board of foods. It includes local products that you can bring home with you or taste while traveling. With this article on Los Angeles, putting together a list of ingredients seemed more difficult. Not because we do not find good food products, quite the contrary, but rather because I would have a hard time giving you the name of things very particular to the region. Indeed, the particularity of Los Angeles is its multicultural cuisine and food products that come from around the globe.

That being said, you can enjoy good Mexican products: spices, good jalapeños, unrefined sugar loaves or Aloe Vera.


Voila, that’s all for Los Angeles. Although I have taken my time to write this article, I admit that it is not complete at all, and mostly, there are many things in LA I have not discovered yet myself. So, do not hesitate to share with us your version of Los Angeles.

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